Horatius Bonar “Christ our substitute”

It is not by incarnation but by blood-shedding that we are saved. The Christ of God is no mere expounder of wisdom; no mere deliverer or gracious benefactor; and they who think they have told the whole gospel, when they have spoken of Jesus revealing the love of God, do greatly err. If Christ be not the Substitute, He is nothing to the sinner. If He did not die as the Sin-bearer, He has died in vain. Let us not be deceived on this point, nor misled by those who, when they announce Christ as the Deliverer, think they have preached the Gospel.

If I throw a rope to a drowning man, I am a deliverer. But is Christ no more than that? If I cast myself into the sea, and risk my life to save another, I am a deliverer. But is Christ no more? Did He but risk His life? The very essence of Christ’s deliverance is the substitution of Himself for us, His life for ours. He did not come to risk His life; He came to die! He did not redeem us by a little loss, a little sacrifice, a little labour, a little suffering, “He redeemed us to God by His blood;” “the previous blood of Christ.” He gave all He had, even His life, for us. This is the kind of deliverance that awakes the happy song, “To Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood.”

Horatius Bonar (1808-1889)

Michael A. G. Haykin and Darrin R. Brooker, Christ is All: The Piety of Horatius Bonar (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2007), pp. 111-113.

See other volumes in this series (Profiles in Reformed Spirituality) on Alexander Whyte, Jonathan Edwards, Hercules Collins, George Swinnock, and John Calvin.

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